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Profit from smart mistakes

WS talks to Home Depot co-founder Kenneth Langone

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in Leaders & Managers,Office Management

In June 1978 Ken Langone and two partners launched Home Depot. Today, they’ve built a retail empire.

With revenues of $26 billion and projected after-tax profits of about $1 billion this year, Langone, age 61, modestly insists the whole enterprise of nearly 600 superstores came about as a result of common sense.

In this interview with Working Smart, Langone discusses how to manage people in a service business when millions of customers wander the aisles of the stores asking for help.

WS: When customers go to Home Depot, they usually need help. How do you train thousands of employees to handle the multitude of questions they get from shoppers?

Langone: It’s the kind of business where you have to let salespeople be themselves. I can’t tell them what to say or how to act. Why put a burden on people to make their jobs harder? One of the reasons we’re successful is that we don’t make up a lot of bureaucratic rules.

WS: But withou...(register to read more)

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